We wish all
our dear ex-libris friends long life
and good health! But as we all know,
we cannot go on collecting
information as to ex-libris
collectors and artists who have
Another vey sad piece of news for ex-libris enthusiasts... Marius Liugaila died a few weeks ago. He leaves behind a major opus of beautifully engraved and poetical ex-libris. More information on the artist will be posted soon.
We just learned of the passing away of one of the great artists of the bookplate in our time: Evgeny Bortnikov
Hasip Pektas wrote: He was a good ex-libris artist, a successful teacher and a great person. I bow respectfully in front of his memory. I wish condolences to all exlibris world to all his relatives. His place must be heaven. Hasip
Evgeny Bortnikov was born in 1952 in Sverdlovsk (nowadays Yekaterinburg), Russia. In 1974 graduated from arts and graphic department of Nizhniy Tagil State Pedagogical Institution.
He was a member of the Artists Union of Russia since 1980.
He worked in the field of book and easel graphics and devoted himself to pedagogical activity. Senior lecturer of the chair of drawing of the Nizhniy Tagil State Social and Pedagogical Academy.
Bortnikov was awarded countless prizes and medals at the international exhibitions of drawing and printmaking in Russia, Austria, Belgium, Greece, Italy, Korea, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Turkey, Ukraine, France, Czech Republic, Sweden.
He lived and worked in Nizhniy Tagil, Russia.
Benoit Junod wrote: Bortnikov made hundreds of bookplates with always one subject: women. Women in all shapes and sizes, always perfectly drawn, always perfectly beautiful. Just a glance at his work made you instantly feel the he loved women, knew their bodies and their souls. He is one of the last classic wood engravers, using the wood brilliantly to make diaphanous, magical images. Then occasionally, he would rip loose and make violently erotic and strong computer ex-libris. Dear dual Evgeny. His girls will always be with us...
Below, a text on the artist, our friend Oldrich Kulhánek who passed away recently. It was written by Henry Klein, who knew him well...
In 1971, along with his close friend Jan Krejcí (1942 - 2001), he was arrested and charged with “Making Images that defamed a fraternal Soviet State.” From that time on, he was a banned artist, forbidden to exhibit in his home country, until the collapse of the Communist government at the end of 1989. During those dark times, commissions from the ex libris community, in his own country and in the West were a lifeline that helped to sustain him. He had told me many times how crucial friends in the West were to his well being and to lifting his spirits. Amongst them, he repeatedly singled out Norbert Hillerbrandt, Walter Humplstötter, Luc Sanders, and Leo van Mares for special appreciation, but mentioned so many others in passing as well. Time and again he said that the meteoric rise of his fortunes through the sales of large format work after the “Velvet Revolution” had been made possible by the friends and contacts he had previously made through the ex libris community. If you look at the list of his ex libris and P.F. commissions, it is also clear that the early and unwavering support of his fellow countrymen, particularly Frantisek Turnovec, was absolutely important.
By now, all of you in the Czech Republic are certainly mourning his passing, and many more of you also know of his death. He and I have been friends for 23 years. When I first invited him to come to Los Angeles for the opening of the exhibition I had curated, “Creativity in the Shadow of Political Oppression,” I knew him only as a great artist and a former political dissident. But, when we met in 1990, there was an immediate kinship. Perhaps it was because my own parents had suffered as political dissidents here in the United States. Perhaps it was because we both loved to eat too much and had a great passion for life. Certainly it had to do with his remarkable sense of humor. We never met or spoke over the telephone without exchanging jokes and ending up laughing.
He was a phoenix reborn after the fall of Communism. But I am quite sure that the Phoenix never could have had a sense of humor that approached that of Olda. I am so pleased that he lived long enough to experience the turnabout of his fortunes and the admiration of his fellow countrymen that he truly deserved. Frequently staying in his studio when I visited Prague each year, I was privileged to see the methodical and dedicated way in which he worked. He was the finest figurative draughtsman that I have ever known and a profound artistic genius.
He leaves behind his wife, Jana, three children, David, Katarína and Klara, and at least two grandchildren (I apologize if I have not kept up with David's progeny.).
The last time that he and I spoke on the telephone, we joked about getting old, having to see too many doctors, but how glorious life still was for us. He said “Each morning when I awake, I look around and say to myself, I have beaten the Devil again.” I have always admired the spirit with which he always faced life. A long time ago, he told me that he had a small heart as the result of an illness that he had suffered when he was 19. But that was only his physical heart. His spiritual heart was immense. So the empty place he leaves behind is also very large. No one can fill that space. Nevertheless, you have all been privileged to have been touched by a giant.
Rest in peace my friend. My condolences to all of you who loved and admired him. We have suffered a very great loss.
In memoriam Claus Wittal
It was a shock to learn that Claus Wittal passed away on September 18th, after a long struggle with cancer. He was 57 years old and seemed one of the youngsters of the bookplate community.
There are very few people in the ex-libris world who have not been in touch with Claus, or read some of the many excellent publications on bookplates which he produced, or turned to him when they were looking for ‘that special ex-libris’ missing in their collection.
As is the case of many of us, it was through books that Claus discovered ex-libris , and they were both a passion and a livelyhood. His website (http://www.exlibriscw.de ) modestly announces “More than 5’000 bookplates online, over 100’000 in stock.”, but it doesn’t explain how knowledgeable Claus was in our field of interest, or his kindness in helping friends and customers,. At a time when our collecting community is deeply divided between those who are interested in old bookplates and in research, and those who collect only signed and numbered prints mainly by contemporary artists, Claus was a bridge, without prejudices. This was a rare quality, which he shared with one or two other ‘giants’ who helped us all build our collections, like Johan Souverein.
Claus will be missed, sorely missed. Not only by his wife Margo and his daughter Elisabeth, to whom we send our heartfelt sympathy and affection. Not only by his many friends. But also be the German Bookplate Society which he helped build into the impressive organization it is today – as its Treasurer for many years (a thankless task), but also as the organizer of three of its annual congresses.
In 2003, FISAE awarded the Helmer Fogedgaard Certificate to Claus Wittal for his achievements in the field of publications on the theme of ex-libris. But I am certain that FISAE will find new ways to perpetuate his memory, as his dedication to ex-libris was exceptional.
The sad news just arrived of the death of Antoon Vermeylen in Budapest, five days ago. He was born in Antwerp on July 27th, 1931, and was one of the most brilliant Belgian artists , glazier and graphic artists of his generation. He was educated at the art academy in Berchem and at the Vocational School for Applied Arts in Antwerp. He then attended the Academy of Fine Arts and the Higher Institute for Fine Arts in Antwerp, of which the director was Mark Severin.
He was involved with the Institute of Printing Arts of the Plantin Society and studied music at the Conservatory in Antwerp. He was a teacher at the Academy of Plastic Arts in Merksem and at the Technicum in Antwerp.
He was introduced to the world of bookplates by Mark Severin, and produced dozens of them as well as book illustrations and other small graphics. Vermeylen published his first woodcuts in the journal Pipe Herb edited by Frank-Ivo van Damme, of which he was a life-long friend.
Antoon Vermeylen lived in Budapest with his wife Hermina Horvath. We address our most sincere condolences to her and to all his many friends.
A chance comment by James Keenan brought to my attention the death of Daniel de Bruin. And here is a good obituary which was published a few months ago...
Obituary: Daniel de Bruin, heraldic bookplace designer
By GORDON CASELY, in the Scotsman, 04.01.11
Daniel de Bruin, heraldic bookplace designer.
Born: 23 September, 1950, in Krimpen aan den Ijssel, Netherlands.
Died: 19 October, 2010, Krimpen aan den Ijssel, aged 60.
Daniel de Bruin was one of Europe's leading heraldic bookplate designers, whose treatment of the art broke the unwritten rules that existed then. He died by his own hand at his home in the Netherlands, due to pressure of work, it is believed.
Bruin had an uncanny eye for the original, and his acclaimed work graces collections across Europe, with distinguished clients including the Vatican seeking him out. Bibliophiles in five continents marked ownership of their volumes with de Bruin bookplates in the form of rectangle, square, roundel, diamond and cartouche. His work appears in the archives of Sir Ilay Campbell of Succoth, Scotland’s leading bookplate collector, and Scots diplomat Alistair Kerr.
Daniel de Bruin lived all his life in the small Dutch town of Krimpen aan den Ijssel. He was fascinated from a young age by colourful images and his latent ability in graphics led him into a self-taught path of calligraphy and letter design. By age 23, his fascination for the form led him into heraldry, and he was quick to note how bookplates established both decoration and provenance in books.
Inspired by modernist engravers such as Professor Mark Severin, Pieter Wetselaar and Win Zwiers, de Bruin became influenced by the relationship of solid line and black-against-white, and the functional way in which his fellow Dutch typographer and engraver Pieter Wetselaar gave form to bookplate design. While he enjoyed the tradition of the English masters like Edward Kruger Gray and John Vinycomb, Daniel was particularly inspired by those he termed the "masters" - the Scottish heraldic draughtsmen Graham Johnston, AG Law Samson and John Sutherland.
His first commission came in 1981, but it was his day job in computing that gave him a lead through the internet revolution of the mid-1990s. He set out to establish himself electronically, as well as using the internet to examine heraldic sources otherwise unknown to him. By 1996, he was an early adopter of useful websites, and this - coupled with the availability of cheap technology in colour printing and his appointment as a craft member to the Society of Heraldic Arts - established him globally, and especially in the United States.
He fashioned unusual and delicate work for Father Peter Walters in Colombia and Robert Cromartie, baron of Urquhart, stretching boundaries in conventional design by using integrated lettering within an anciently expressive culture. His work attracted critical acclaim, appearing in leading publications of a dozen nations.
Several of his bookplates feature in Alexander von Volborth's opus The Art of Heraldry, and from the mid-1980s, his bookplates appeared in international exhibitions from St Petersburg to Hong Kong, Tokyo to Belgrade. His was appointed chairman of the first bookplate competition in the Netherlands in 1990.
De Bruin's motto was Dare To Be Different, and he marked his work with an ermine spot - a choice of personal insignia deriving from the myth that a white stoat (the "ermine") would rather run into fire than dirty its paws in mud. He never allowed either his trademark scholarliness or his personal style to erase the style of heraldry practised in a particular region. Thus the bookplate of Johan Deboutte in Belgium is infused with Flemish spirit, while that for the Mexican David de Oliverara-Ayes employs Spanish heraldry of his Conquistador ancestor Diego de Olivera of 1519. For his clients, he employed heraldic influences running from the Turkish and Egyptian to the Japanese and Welsh, and even produced a recognisable heraldic signature in recent work for Carl Pritchett in Texas.
A modest man, Daniel brought pictorial language in new form to today's visually-focused society and produced a body of work almost unparalleled in its exuberance and celebration of heraldry. He is survived by his wife Greete.
Dr. Emil Kunze, Hamburg,
17.4.1921 – 11.1.2011
Dear Dr. Kunze! He was an assiduous collector of ex-libris and a member of the DEG and Swiss ex-libris club. He attended a great number of congresses and will be sorely missed, by artists and collectors alike.
Here is a photo of him with Malou Hung at Istanbul...
Mrs. Leida Soom 1912-2009
Estonian exlibris artist and collector Mrs. Leida Soom died 25th September 2009. She reached 96 years.
She graduated from the Estonian National Arts and Crafts School 1933 and worked after that as a designer in a local textile firm.
In 1940 the National Opera Estonia searched for new talent. Leida Soom was accepted for the ranks of the opera and she started a career for thirty years.
Her first exlibris was made under the guidance of Paul Ambur in 1950.
After a few other attempts in 1955 and 1958 she really started as an exlibris artist in 1960 and continued for 38 years and over 400 examples. The last one she made in 2002.
In 2006 Andres Aruoja published an illustrated catalogue of all the works of Mrs. Soom.
Her collection of tens of thousands of ex-libris was kept in her tiny home in perfect order.
profusely for the delay in posting
these news... and I am grateful to
Cristiano Beccaletto for the
information on our two Italian
friends, as well as to Rastko Ciric
for biographical details of Bogden
KRSIC (Sarajevo, 1932 –
Bogdan Krsic studied at the Academy of Applied Arts in
Belgrade under Prof. Mihailo S.
Petrov, and at the College for
Industry and Arts in Prague under
Prof. Karel Swolinsky.
From 1962 to 1997, he was full-time Professor at the
Faculty of Applied Arts in Belgrade,
for many years heading the Graphics
Department. As a founder of the Book
Design department, he directed
courses in book design. He was
Vice-Dean of the FAA and Vice-Rector
of the University of Arts in
Belgrade. He was a member of ULUPUDS,
ULUS, The Graphic Collective, HOLLAR,
the society of Czech graphic
artists, and since its inception,
Vice-President of the Belgrade Ex-libris
He was one of the most prominent graphic artists in former
Apart from free graphics, he worked on illustration,
typography, newspaper- magazine- and
book-design, as well as ceramics,
scenography and heraldry. Krsic
published many texts on graphic arts
in the daily press and in
Bogdan Krsic had more than 40 one-man exhibitions, and
received many awards for his graphic
work, book design and ex-libris.
Four books were published about him
and his work: BOGDAN KRSIC by Dragan
Djordjevic (Graphic Collective,
Belgrade, 1968), BOGDAN KRSIC –
GRAPHIC PRINTS by Vanja Kraut
(National Museum, Belgrade, 1987),
THE DEMIURG by Slobodan Lazarevic
and Miomir Petrovic (Jefimija,
Kragujevac, 1997) and IN THE
GROTESQUE THEATRE OF BOGDAN KRSIC by
Branislava Jevtovic (Vojnoizdavacki
Zavod, Belgrade, 2004).
He made about 60 ex-libris, mainly in the technique of
etching and aquatint, and is
considered among the most
imaginative and accomplished creator
of important small format graphic
works of his generation. Also, in
his courses at the Faculty of
Applied Arts of Belgrade University,
Bogdan Krsic set as a task to each
class of his students the creation
of a bookplate – for themselves, a
member of their family or a friend.
In this way, he promoted ex-libris,
which were an art form he greatly
(Venice, 15 June 1916 – Merano 4
At nearly 93, Egisto
Bragaglia has left us – an
internationally famous historian and
researcher of ex-libris. Our
condolences go to his wife, Tina –
who is 97 – and whom he married in
1939. When they met, Egisto was just
over 17, and she was 22. They were
inseparable all their life, in work
as in hobbies and pastimes –
photography, clocks, voyages, arts,
gastronomy, just to name a few, and
during the last 30 years, graphics
had a varied career, as in 1933 he
joined an important firm of the IRI
group, active in the commerce of
steel and in 1938 directed its
branch in Bolzano. In 1946 he had a
commercial firm with his wife for
the sale of technical equipment and
tools. From 1946 until 1972, he was
vice-president of the publishing
house and daily newspaper ‘Alto
Adige’, and was very active in
public life and politics. In 1977,
he renounced all public mandates and
took his pension, then dedicating
his life entirely to arts and
From that moment on,
Bragaglia collected thousands of
graphic art works and paintings, and
organized his library of over 10’000
volumes which contained all the
reference works of all aspects of
culture. And he dedicated himself to
the scientific study and promotion
He cooperated with
bio-bibliographical of the art of
contemporary ex-libris’, and was a
member of the board of the Grafica
d’arte’ magazine, and ‘UTZ,
published by the Progetti Farnesiani
di Ortona, as well as ‘Ex Libris’.
With Remo Palmirani, he founded the
‘Accademia dell’Ex Libris’. He
organized innumerable exhibitions,
cooperating in particular with
Ortona for the shows at the Palazzo
Farnese, the first nucleus of the
Mediterranean Ex Libris Museum.
From 1994 until 2000,
he taught at the biennial courses
specialized in the cataloguing of
antique books, organized by the
Province of Trento. In 1998, he set
up the programme for the
organisation of the ex-libris
section of the Brunico Museum. He
gave countless conferences at the
Municipal Library of the Sormani
Palace in Milan, at the Library of
Pavia, at the Museum of Ortona, at
the seminary of the Archbishopric of
Trento, at the University library of
Bologna, and in Bolzano, on a wide
range of occasions.
published over 190 books and
articles on bookplates and graphics,
amongst which “Bibliografia italiana
dell’ex libris” (1986) and “L’ex
libris italiano dale origini all
fine dell’Ottocento” (3 vol., 1993),
are seminal works. In 1996, the
Italian Libraries’ association
published his ‘Ex Libris’, aimed at
the employees of all Italian public
His efforts produced
“Gli ex libris Italiani del
Novecento” in 2006, and two years
later, “L’Ex libris del bibliofilo”
published with the municipalità and
library of Rovereto.
In 2003, Bragaglia
was awarded the Udo Ivask
certificate by FISAE in recognition
of his ‘monumental catalogue of
Italian bookplates’, and in 2006,
the Special Remo Palmirani Prize for
‘his indefatigable and long-term
efforts in the fields of study and
historical research aiming at
promoting the bookplate in its most
traditional and real values’.
The last decision of
his life was to donate an important
part of his library – over 1500
volumes – to the Library of Rovereto.
With Bragaglia, it is
a rigourous researcher who
disappears, an outstanding
organizer, and an excellent public
speaker. But above all, he was a man
who freed the contemporary Italian
bookplate from the simple function
of a collector’s exchange material,
fostering its re-evaluation within
its historical tradition:
without light, there
is no colour; without a witness,
there are no facts; without
historical memory, bookplates are
Remo Wolf (Trento, 1912 – 2009)
On January 27th 2009,
Remo Wolf passed away peacefully – a
great painter, engraver and
He studied and acquired his skills
at the Art Institutes of Parma and
Florence, obtaining his diploma to
teach drawing. It was in Florence
that he entered the world of
woodcut, etching and aquatint when
he was a student, discovering
bookplates when he visited an
exhibition by Bruno da Osimo. Apart
from paintings and drawings, his
graphic works comprise 3800 free
graphics, of which 2700 woodcuts and
1800 intaglio prints, about 850
bookplates and 320 ephemera. From
1936 onwards, he took part in
Italian and international art shows,
of which the Venice Biennial (1942,
1950, 1954 and 1956) and many
others, receiving awards such as the
Suzzara and Biella prizes. His work
is in the collections of many
Italian museums, of which the
Calcografia Nazionale in Rome.
Particularly in his woodcuts, Wolf
was marked by central European
expressionism, with strong and
vigorous lines, whereas his painting
was more Venetian in its light and
His subject matter is often
autobiographical, with the daily
discovery of his own world with its
monotony or diversity. He was also
very marked by literature and
reflected texts meticulously in his
engravings, as can be seen for
instance in 87 plates on the works
of the poet François Villon, in
which one feels the strong and
profound inspiration which the work
had on the artist over a period of a
decade – a metaphor on human life,
natural rhythms, where everything
inexorably repeats itself.
With his death, the events of his
life fade away, but his art remains
as a witness of a life dedicated to
the ‘craft’ through which he
communicated to people his love for
mountains, the flight of time or
human events, fortunes and
last year of
Karoly Andrusko seems
to have been practically
unnoticed... He still remains,
today, the most prolific engraver of
bookplates in the history of the
genre - with over 5000 engravings of
ex-libris in his opus list...
It was a great sadness to learn, a
few days ago, that
Meyer-Noirel, the 'Grande Dame' of
ex-librists, passed away
on Sunday January 6, after a short
illness. She was born in Nancy in
1919 and spent most of her life in
her native Lorraine, living in a
wonderful house in the village of
Tomblaine, with her husband
Jean-Charles Meyer (†2000), a highly
cultured chemist who shared many of
her interests. The house was full of
books, bookplates, engravings, and a
number of other collections which
were started by her father. But her
home from home was the Municipal
Library of Nancy, next to the
celebrated Stanislas Square, where
she had convinced the director, many
years ago, to give a small office to
AFCEL to house its collection and
archives. It was a box-lined mouse's
nest kept in pristine order, with
albums, reserves of publications and
many reference books, Germaine's
desk and barely room for a chair for
Germaine Meyer-Noirel was a
librarian by training, and as such
had a real interest in ex-libris as
library owners' marks over the
centuries – though she did not
disdain contemporary ex-libris, even
having quite a number to her own
name commissioned from various
artists as well as received as
gifts, which she exchanged, and
promptly added her acquisitions to
the AFCEL collection, having no real
wish to collect for herself. She was
a scholar of ex-libris, a researcher
and certainly the foremost expert on
French bookplates for most of her
life. For half a century, she worked
as a volunteer for the Nancy Library
and for AFCEL, publishing an array
of important articles on the history
of ex-libris and in 1989 a book,
L'ex-libris: histoire, art,
techniques, published by Picard,
Paris, which remains still today the
best reference work on French
bookplates. She created at her
office in the Nancy Library a
National Centre for the
Documentation of Ex-libris for AFCEL
where she weaved an extraordinary
web of scholars and collectors of
bookplates interacting with them to
identify, classify and document
items which were mysterious. This
quickly led her to embark on her
life-work, writing an encyclopaedic
repertory of French ex-libris which
now contains over 30'000 items
collected into close to twenty
volumes. These last few years she
worked assiduously on her project
mostly from her home, using an
excellent database which had been
specially developed for her. Not
wanting things to get out of hand,
she asked her computer technician to
install an automatic save and backup
every day at 5 pm... following which
the computer switched off
automatically, and she stopped
working! Shortly before
Christmas, she passed the letter 'z'
cards for checking, so her task was
almost finished – AFCEL, with the
help of Germaine's daughter, Cécile
Malinverno, will see to it that the
last volume of the repertory is
Germaine Meyer-Noirel had a key role
in AFCEL, recreated in 1945. She was
a member since its inception and its
president from 1983 to 2000, and
then its honorary president until
her death. She was, with the help of
her husband, a key figure in the
founding of FISAE (see
All collectors and researchers who
were in touch with her will remember
how helpful and generous she was
with her time and her immense
reservoir of knowledge. She was a
patient and persistent researcher,
and at the same time witty and
amusing, with a sharp mind and
Beyond her major contribution to the
history of ex-libris, Germaine
Meyer-Noirel leaves behind her five
children, 15 grand-children and 19
great-grand-children. On behalf of
FISAE and the entire ex-libris
community, we convey to them our
Less than a week
after posting the last news I have
the very sad task of bringing to you
more bad news. Our good friend
Loburev, founder and curator of the
Ex-libris Museum in Moscow,
died yesterday, May 3rd. All of you
who have been to international
bookplate meetings, or being in
Moscow have found their way to the
Ex-libris Museum on
have met him and will mourn him.
This is another terrible loss for
the Russian Ex-libris Association
and we send them our most heartfelt
note is being drafted and will be
posted here soon.
figure of the Russian bookplate
world has left us. Born on April 5,
1930, the great
engraver and artist Anatolii
Kalashnikov died in
Moscow on 21 April. Click here to
read a text about him by FISAE
Executive Secretaty W. E. Butler.
There seems to be
a succession of bad news... I was
just informed that
Khudolei, Vice-Chairman of the
Russian Ex-libris Association and
editor of its journal,
died on Saturday, April 14, 2007.
Many of us remember Veniamin's
brilliant organisation of the FISAE
Congress in St. Petersburg in 1998 -
and all those who knew him will miss
his lively intelligence, his sense
of humour and his charm.
to read a text on Veniamin Khudolei
by W. E. Butler, FISAE Executive
to read a tribute to him by a group
of major Russian artists who were
Today, not only
the Bookplate Society but the entire
ex-libris community is in mourning.
Lee, writer, collector and historian
of bookplates (*1936)
died of cancer in London on 24
Founder of the
Bookplate Society in 1972 and its
president for a great part of its
existence, Brian was the most
prolific author on ex-libris in the
history of British bookplate
collecting, with many of his works
Early Printed Book Labels
[P.L.A. and Bookplate Society,
[David and Charles, 1979], etc.)
being standard reference books not
only for British collectors but used
worldwide. He stands without doubt
alone of his generation as the
epitome of the serious collector and
erudite researcher on bookplates.
Although his interests centred on
British ex-libris and Royal
bookplates, his interests were wide
and he was knowledgeable on subjects
as far apart as mediaeval German
ex-libris or contemporary Scottish
ones (a book on Scottish bookplates
which he wrote with Sir Ilay
Campbell is still under press). In
1995, he went to Belgrade as a
member of the jury of the 'World of
Ex-libris' competition, and his
comments and observations showed
that he also had a good eye for
contemporary bookplates - as long as
they were real ex-libris, and not
small free graphics in disguise.
By training, after
an attempt at religious life, Brian
became an English teacher and taught
many years at a school for
educationally difficult children. He
delighted in language and literature
and each letter one received from
him was a small masterpiece. It was
a tragedy for him that in the 1980s
the school was closed and he was
made redundant, with a very modest
pension - but for bookplate
enthusiasts, it was a gift, as Brian
from then on spent nearly all his
time and energy on ex-libris. He
also, by the way, built up a
breath-taking collection of
mediaeval pilgrims' badges, with
many pieces coveted by the British
Brian's house at
32 Barrowgate Road, Chiswick, was
for over a quarter of a century the
place where bookplate enthusiasts
from all parts of the world went for
counsel and information - and to
whiff an atmosphere of the England
of our childhood, with mahogany and
oak furniture, fine china and a
grandfather clock which never worked
- normal, as time stood still.
Privileged visitors met the tortoise
in the garden, and also Prince
Stanley Hanuman, a very Royal plush
monkey which went back to Brian's
childhood. Talk was nearly always
about bookplates - projects of
articles and books, queries as to
style, owners, artists, motifs - and
Brian always seemed to have that
snippet of information one had been
looking for in vain. His memory was
exceptionally good, and he was
sometimes disgruntled when people,
over a few years, asked him the same
question twice. His deep knowledge
of ex-libris was not acquired
perchance: he had read all the
literature on the subject of the
1860-1920 period, including all the
volumes of the Ex-libris Journal,
many times. I remember asking him a
question about an early armorial
once, and he pulled out one of the
ELJ volumes, flipped the pages and
came to a lengthy article on the
subject of my query, written in
1906... he pushed the book in front
of me , and said "It's all there!" -
and I felt sheepish.
Of all Brian's
publications, the one which best
reveals his enquiring spirit and
gently caustic wit is Some
recollections of a bookplate
collector, which was privately
published in the late 'eighties. I
have just taken it from my
bookshelf, and will start re-reading
it when I get home tonight. Perhaps
it will be a way to cheat his
departure for a few days. All his
friends, and especially the West
Indian ones, who were the closest to
him, sorely miss him. Thank you
Brian, for all you have given us.
want more information as to Brian
North Lee can read an article by
and can find information as to his
I received this
morning the very sad news that our
the great Florentine engraver,
painter and creator of ex-libris,
died on December 1rst. I feel this
loss personally and very directly,
as earlier this year I went three
times to Florence to see him and to
prepare the exhibition of his
bookplates which were shown in 'Work
in Dialogue' at the FISAE Congress
He telephoned me
in September to express his joy at
having seen the catalogue and his
pride in being associated with Simon
Brett, Evgenji Bortnikov and
Vladimir Zuev in the publication.
With his loss, it
is one of the last great European
woodcutters who disappears. His
bookplates and his rich legacy of
artworks remain, with their
wonderful blacks and whites in
perfect balance. Behind the images
of persons of all walks of life, the
humanity and sense of fun of
Costantini is always apparent, with
rare crispness and gentility. No one
was a more constant friend - as his
name reminds us.
For those who did
not read the short biographical note
in 'Work in Dialogue', it can be
The woodcut shown above is one of
the many small prints he used to
send as PFs and New Year cards.
Below his self-portrait is the word
'auguri', which means best wishes.
Best wishes to you, Costante
Costantini, and may the earth be
light on your grave.
Where can I
find something which was posted and
has been removed?
Competition results, in memoriam
notices and all other material
except what refers to ephemeral events such as
meetings and exhibitions are posted
to the 'Archive' section of this
site. Consult it!